View Full Version : circle, square, triangle?

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12-15-2002, 03:05 AM
hi ho

Can someone explain these aikido metaphors? Or perhaps post a url that does so?

mike lee
12-15-2002, 06:53 AM
The circle is a round stone. The square is a piece of paper. And the triangle is scissors. :D

Is that right? :freaky:

Bruce Baker
12-15-2002, 09:54 AM
Yeah, but it would take about half an hour to properly explain it, and apply it to what it means for aikido.

Find each shape in the movements and stances used for aikido movements and techniques ... therein lies the answer.

Drag your teacher aside in the beginning or end of class and go over with him/her your questions. That should start, emphasis on start, you in the right direction to find your answers.

12-15-2002, 12:28 PM
I get (on some level, anyway) what is meant the triangle and circle analogies, but what about the square

L. Camejo
12-15-2002, 02:02 PM
Here are some URLs to get you started. What you are looking for is also called Sangen.


Slightly deeper version here.


Hope this helps.


12-15-2002, 03:11 PM
Hope this helps.
Thank you, it does.

Oddly, I couldn't get the northbay link to work - perhaps their site is down.

12-15-2002, 06:56 PM
hi ho

Can someone explain these aikido metaphors? Or perhaps post a url that does so?
You will probably find much information regarding the "metaphorical" significance of Circle-Triangle-Square. You may also find that one bit of information you read contradicts some other bit of information that you find somewhere else. With regards to "practical" information on how it relates to Aikido principles and methods, I offer this

Circle = Tenkan

Triangle = Irimi

Square = Kokyu

All three elements together reveal "aiki"

Mr. P
12-16-2002, 12:25 AM
A new Playstation 2 Game :cool: ?!

Just kiddin' :D ...

You can return to normal activities :dead: ...

12-16-2002, 01:35 AM
Yeah, but it would take about half an hour to properly explain it.
Hmm, that never stopped you from posting in other threads, did it? Or are you just saying you dont wanty to spent half an hour on this subject?
Can someone explain these aikido metaphors?
I will try but it will only reflect my meager non-japanese and non-shinto understanding of them. Please forgive me if they are worded a bit strange but especialy when trying to phrase something precisely my english might start to look like my dutch (native tongue)

All three symbols originate within shinto.

The triangle (sankaku) represents the dimension of Ki-flow (iku mususbi/tama). In aikido it represents entering (irimi). It reflects the initiative.

The circle (maru) represents the dimension that is liquid (taru musubi/tama). In aikido it represents blending (tenkan). It reflects unifiquation.

The square (shikaku) represents the dimension that is solid (tamatsume musubi/tama). In aikido it represents control (kokyu). It reflects form.

As these are symbols that are not reserved to Aikido it can be nice to see them in another context as well.The circle is often easy to find in actions of unification, In the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) Izanami no mikoto (Izanami no kami) and Izanagi no mikoto (Izanagi no kami) discover that her body is built with one place formed insufficiently, as where his body is built with one place formed in excess. They decide that the will walk in a circle around the heavenly pilar and insert his "what was formed in excess" into her "what was formed insufficiently" and thus give birth to the land.

Well, how is that for unification?

12-16-2002, 08:56 AM
Sangen: IMHO, the triangle trinity of mind-body-spirit, past-present-future represents fire and water, Ki flow, and a stable posture. The circle is universal for infinity, eternity, serenity, and perfection, fluid without beginning or end. The square is stability, order and applied control. Together triangle (man), square (earth), and circle (heaven). Enter with the sharp point of the triangle, move and flow like the circle, and hold with the firmness of the square.

Until again,


Thomas Froman
12-17-2002, 05:04 PM
The book "Aikido in Everyday Life Giving in to Get Your Way" by Terry Dobson and Victor Miller has some good explanations of Circle, Square, Triangle. It also tells how they relate to using Aikido philosophy in your daily life (Never would have guessed by the title, Huh?) which is something I know I need to work on.

Bruce Baker
12-18-2002, 10:45 AM
Well, Erik Jurrien Knoops you should be careful what you ask for, some times there is a sword of Damacles over your head.


Beyond the mumbo jumbo, the spiritual connotations, these are the three basic building forms, found within nature, and found with in our movements. Only, most times they are referred to as sphere, rectangle, and triangle, the basic buiding blocks.

In reference to Aikido, we use the effiecientcy of these shapes to facilitate the practical movements needed to either move us, move our opponent, manipulate technques or objects within our movements.

I kind of thought that the simplicity of having you, the person who posed this question, find the shapes in practice would be a good starting point.

The rest of the drivel about the spiritual aspect is up to you, as all spiritual meaning is derived from nature, the universe, and the way humanity interacts/ understands their environment. Hence the same elemental events may be interpreted differently by different religions, and although they are the same exact event. We, humanity, have written our own meaning which explain event or thoughts in terms we can understand.

Circle, square, triangle? You must mean the Masonic Temple, eh? No? You really mean Aikido?

Then look to your practice, ask about how people have related the movements to these simple shapes, and the rest is up to you.

Hey, that guy is a sphere head ... that woman has a triangle problem, and that sensei is square, I mean he don't cut no corners, do he?

Really, kidding aside....there are so many ways to remember how to move, explain what you should remember to move, and then totally take them out of context into a religious manifestation ... just go do it to find the answer.

ERIK! Quick! Move! There is mouse gnawing at the string!

Boy, am I glad to be a peasant.

Bruce Baker
12-18-2002, 10:52 AM
By the way, I don't subscribe to putting all explanations of Aikido into the japanese vernacular, even if they are efficient in confusing the hell out of newcomers, and inspiring awe in them.

No offense. My way of remembering things is to put them in terms I can understand, experience, or feel.

Sorry about the Damacles Erik, I just couldn't resist. We sometimes get way too serious in this forum, and Aikido should be a lot more fun.

Kinda like, I rib you because I like you, and you say, stop liking me so much....

That kind of fun.

12-18-2002, 02:50 PM
Bruce, I realy realy tried to understand what you are talking about, but I still am puzzled. Could you rephrase it, please.

12-18-2002, 04:55 PM
"Aikido in Everyday Life Giving in to Get Your Way" by Terry Dobson and Victor Miller (...)
Yep, I was going to recommend that one too. Clear, simple & practical (which isn't to say that the more esoterical explanations can't be interesting as well...)

Hagen Seibert
12-18-2002, 05:15 PM

in the walls of Himeji Castle there are these small windows for shooting out in the shape of circle, triangle & square ....

Certainly another idea behind than circle & triangle were for guns and square was for bows.

Bruce Baker
12-19-2002, 07:17 AM
The clarity of seeing what is, verses the storys that come about as evolution of telling tales of Beowulf in the tavern or about the fire, are exactly the crux of what I am talking about.

The Last book of the Bible, Revolations, is not the result of looking ahead to see the future, but looking behind, seeing the events of the past in their reality or story form and extrapolating the future with dreams and fears.

Earthquakes, meteors, floods (Hollander's should understand the nature of floods), and other natural disasters that are slanted to be the wrath of god or the work of the devil ... I guess they would be for those caught up in the disaster, wouldn't they?

Don't you guys have a learning channel, or history channel on your televisions over there? Shows about the natural disasters of the past and their causes, be it volcano, earthquake, flood, etc?

Never mind.

Simple object comparison of daily life then.

Circle ... sun, moon, eggs, drops of water, wheels, etc etc

Triangles ... smallest type of support structure, mountains, plants (in most cases grow in a triangle of some sort, pine trees being a prime example), pyraminds type structures, etc, etc.

Square ... next evolvement of structure from four lines, containers, surrounding structures, marching formation, forts, barricades, easiest manner of attack for armys that can't count to five cause they have lost a finger .. oops.

.... didn't find that funny? I did.

I can't help it. I am tired of being an adult, having children suck the youth out of me. It is time for retirement, time to become a child again. Jabs of humor being the test of both your intellect and mine, especially as it slips away with old age, I enjoin you to get out of your so serious stance of pursueing scholarly knowledge without applying it in a common sense manner.

Infinity movement, or symbol for infinity? Two cirlces connected together making a figure eight?

How about this monitor for your computer?

Millions of dots that make objects appear as any shape you can imagine by telling the mind that the conglomeration of dots is another shape.

Illusion? Or perception? Or imagination working overtime?

Aikido, and life, is so much more than our interpretation of humanitys domination of nature and natural forces of nature. The explanation is not always adequete for the actions, and the actions are not always determined by :circle: :square: :triangle:

It sure is easier to put actions into simple terms that make thought and action work together, isn't it?

I think we should take this conversation over to the spiritual forum.

mike lee
12-19-2002, 07:42 AM
:triangle: = executive, judicial, legislative branches of government.

:circle: = what happens to people who forget history.

:square: = white guys that never listen to R&B.